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Conflucians Say: Do you think we *like* being right?

o-brother

We're in a tight spot.

I mean, sure, there’s a certain amount of smug self-satisfaction.  We said he wasn’t ready.  We said he’d be over his head.  We said he could bring the whole shebang down on our heads because he wouldn’t know how to manipulate the levers of government.  We said he would be weak and vulnerable to the people who bought him and gave him the coalitions he needed to win.  But did anyone listen to us?  NOOOOoooooOOOOo.

Now, we’re in a tight spot.  And it’s affecting us PUMAs just like all of the other poor unfortunate people in America who don’t work on Wall Street.  My ex just got laid off.  I am now the only working parent.  My BFF reports that the company that is taking over his company just laid off a $#@%load of researchers and he is feeling like a sitting duck.  We’ve all hemorrhaged massive amounts of hard earned 401K funds that were supposed to cushion our retirements that were underfunded even when the stock market was at its peak.  And all I want is to have a job long enough to finish the oncology project I’m working on so I’ll have something to be proud of on the day they escort me out the door with my cardboard box of silk plants and desk photos.

Meanwhile, commenter Diego Mamani at Naked Capitalism gives us this example of what is likely to happen under Geithner’s Plan:

Let’s see an example. “Bank” has a mortgage-backed security (MBS) with original par (nominal) value of $100. In 2008 Bank “marked-to-market” and now values the MBS at $95 in its books. But we all know that this MBS is worth a lot less, maybe less than $60, but Bank won’t acknowledge reality.

In 2009 we have the new Treasury plan, whereby “Peter” buys this MBS, for say, $90. That’s because the bank won’t take anything less. If it did, Bank would be shown to be insolvent and would be out of business.

Peter puts only $6 out of pocket. Uncle Sam puts another $6, and the remainder $78 is a nonrecourse loan from Uncle Sam to Peter. (Total, $90).

Then Peter turns around and sells the MBS to his pal “Paul” for $48. Paul pays $48 b/c he thinks the MBS is actually worth $58 as justified by what the homeowners will actually pay in monthly mortgage payments.

Peter’s $6 investment is wiped out. So is the govt’s $6. And the $48 Peter gets from Paul goes to pay back the govt loan of $78. So now, Peter lost $6 but Uncle Sam lost $36 ($84-$48).

Since Peter and Paul are buddies (co-conspirators), the latter can compensate Peter. Say, Paul gives Peter his $6 plus another $2 for his troubles. Paul pays $48 for something worth $58, but because he gave $8 to Peter, his profit is only $2. And the banks get fully $90 for paper that is worth actually $58.

Summary:
Peter puts in $6, makes $2 profit
Paul puts in $48, makes $2 profit
U.S. puts in $84, makes a $36 LOSS
Bank had paper that was really worth $58 but got $90 for it, makes a $32 profit

What’s really weird about the above scenario is that we know $%@! like this is probably already in the works.  It’s predictable.  It’s human nature.  It’s easy enough to do.  And yet, knowing all of this, there’s probably not a damn thing we can do short of marching on Washington with our pitchforks and torches to stop it.  No amount of suffering now or in the future by the hard working taxpayers of this country seem to be able to deflect Tim Geithner and Barack Obama from screwing us royally in favor of the bankers whose lifestyles must be saved at all costs.

No, we do not feel good about being right.

Late addition: James Kwak and Simon Johnson of Baseline Scenario put a link to an article on “The Quiet Coup”, scheduled to appear in the Atlantic in May.  Read it and weep.

Join us on Conflucians Say at 10PM EST tonight to celebrate your perspicacity.  It’s on PUMA United Radio (PURrrr)

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47 Responses

  1. I have been reading a lot about this coup recently. Infos is coming out. I guess people in the know are getting scare like everybody else. It’s one thing the believe to be invincible, it’s another to see your childhood friend or you aunt freeking out about not being able to pay the utiliies. Reality is catching up.

    And I know you are not pro tea parties, but they are very indicative of something very strong emerging. I wouldn’t bet on the pitchforks staying in the barns forever.

    And sorry for the stress you are on on the job front and for your ex predicament.

  2. I’m so sorry RD. I hope like hell things get better for you, and the whole thing just makes me angrier and angrier.

    There’s a new book out, “House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street“, and here is a lovely little tidbit about Geithner:

    Here is Cayne on Tim Geithner, then the president of the New York Fed, now the Treasury Secretary, when he refused to bail out his bank. “This guy thinks he’s got a big dick. He’s got nothing, except maybe a boyfriend. I’m not a good enemy. I’m a very bad enemy … for some clerk to make a decision about whether or not they’re a good credit? Who the f*** asked you? I want to open up on this f*****, that’s all I can tell you.”

    I’m not surprised at the quote from Geithner. I’ve said for ages that the wheeler dealers on Wall Street were doing nothing more than playing a huge game of whose dick is bigger. Pissy little insecure frat boys, the lot of them.

    I’m getting really tired of a male-hierarchal society continually fucking up the lives of millions, all because they seem constitutionally incapable of THINKING, and instead turn everything they touch into one big wankfest virility contest.

    Yeah, you have winkies. I get it. I am *cough* suitably impressed. Here, here’s my impressed face: Oooooooooo!

    Now may we zip up and fix the fucking country, please?.

    • and instead turn everything they touch into one big wankfest virility contest.

      Yeah, you have winkies. I get it. I am *cough* suitably impressed. Here, here’s my impressed face: Oooooooooo!

      Now may we zip up and fix the fucking country, please?.

      WMCB: you have to become a front pager–I just love everything you write. So true, so true.

    • Perfectly said!

  3. From the Atlantic’s “Quiet Coup”: If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

    Okay, I read through the whole dismal piece and never once saw the name “Obama” surface. The closest the author can come to naming Him is a delicate reference to “our leadership”. Nowhere does the author address the subject of just why “our leadership” might be a tad unlikely to take on the big money guns. Is this guy sleeping with Andrew Sullivan or what? Whatever, he’s certainly pulling some punches here. When the hell do these seers start naming names? Unless and until they do, we’re f*cked.

    • Think of it this way: Paul Krugman is attacked whenever he criticizes the Obama administration. His posts are seen as a direct attack on Obama that have become personal. Paul Krugman is now a racist, metaphorically, and anything he says is greeted with skepticism because he supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 before she dropped out.
      So, Kwak and Johnson take the distraction out by presenting the facts in all their gory glory but not mentioning Obama. That way, the Kool-Ade drinkers don’t stumble over the trigger words and go ballistic.
      I’m pretty sure Johnson and Kwak have little patience with Obama’s stupid economic team’s decisions and ultimately, Obama is responsible for that.

      • I take your point here, RD, but nothing’s going to change until a few identifiable bodies end up in the public stocks (is there a pun in there somewhere?). Krugman desperately needs, and deserves, some company – not more cowardice. The latter certainly helped get us into this mess, e.g., a sell-out O presidency replete with Turbo Timmy and his bloodsucking buddies. I mean, one thing PUMAs have never lacked is courage, right? Why shouldn’t we expect a show of it from those with far larger megaphones and better connections?

        • The Atlantic, New Yorker, same diff, no? They can’t go too hard before they begin stepping on themselves, their readers I mean. Criticism is fine, as long as the mess is in someone else’s living room. Dunno. Also got the sense they wanted to leave themselves an out, given the number of times they qualified their IMF “emerging market” experience. In the very unlikely (no impossible) chance that the economy escapes relatively unscathed, they can say, hey turns out we were not “emerging” after all. It’s a good article nonetheless. Don’t see anyone else resembling the MSM going as far as they have. All still in the denial state, which the duo describe well in the piece.

          • Matt Taibbi connected many more dots in Rolling Stone (almost all the way to Obama…). Just in case you haven’t read this:

            http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/26793903/the_big_takeover/print

          • Back. I’d seen excerpts on TC but had not read it. Wow. I only know Taibbi from his visits on Bill Maher when I used to watch that crap. On air Matt comes off a bit overeager left conspiricist. But the RS piece reads very credible. If 2/3rd of what he writes sticks, the future is indeed looking bleak. The big new item he mentions are these silent Fed infusions. In addition to all the public declarations of money, Matt says at least 3 trillion more in cash and 6 trillion more in guarantees. If that’s true, the dollar is not looking good. The stock market might be up because of these infusions (if Taibbi is right), and what the Fed can’t borrow, they are probably printing monopoly money. Dunno. Not surprised other nations are reducing their dollar reserves.

    • I hope you left a comment for the article. Put the pressure on–we are not blind. Just follow the money idiots (not you): opensecrets.org. Where the hell do they think his money came from?

  4. I remember when the Obots were so effing delighted about the economic meltdown. Woo hoo for all that misery if it would make them “win.” of course we’re not happy about being right–we have empathy and we don’t have the luxury. Not being useless political hacks who get promoted for screwing up or trust fund babies who can afford to let our kids pick our candidate because we’ll be fine regardless, most of our fates sort of depend on how badly he screws up here.

    • That totally sums up the obots. Even a totally trashed, unrecoverable economy was happy news to them because their only criteria for good versus bad was how it would affect Obama.

      Except I think many of them have already discovered, or will discover, how effed up and stupid that was. The magnitude of the economic disaster is such that many of the latte crowd will find themselves out of work and home (those that haven’t already). This is not like a ‘usual’ recession where it’s only those at the bottom of the economic ladder suffer. It was easy for them to think a bad economy was good news because they never imagined they’d bear the costs of it. If only they could learn their very important lesson without s*cking the rest of us down into the black hole with them.

      • It will probably hurt the latte crowd and the poorest of the poor. There is always a need for cops, nurses, plumbers, teachers, electricians, automechanics, and carpenters.

        • Yes, I feel fortunate. I’m in a health-care profession and can always get another job in my field. Though if the public entity I work for has big budget cuts (to pay to bail out AIG and Timmy G’s friends), it will limit how many patients get care. And we see patients on Medicare and Medicaid — many private clinics don’t.

          That Kwak and Johnson article is disturbing. From what Dkat’s taught us in her posts, those economists are spot on.

          Interesting times.

          • I’m glad to hear we will always need nurses- even though the
            frigging job is gonna be the death of me.

        • and tires.my son is in the tire business,his job is secure..
          thank the good LORD..

      • Gail Collins in the Times today is exactly that breed of Obot. If you haven’t read her piece yet, don’t waste the time. But she is oblivious and tranciful, even as the paper announced today another round of heavy layoffs. Some of these people really are the musicians on the Titanic.

        • Unlike Collins, the musicians on the Titanic had at least a modicum of talent, not to mention integrity. Here’s hoping the Times throws her overboard next round. She’s become pretty insufferable with her entirely inappropriate ‘oh so amused’ attitude. Gaaah.

        • Yea, Collins has repeatedly p*ssed me off, but I did enjoy her complete smackdown of BO’s narcissism today. I don’t have the exact quote, but she made fun of him for his complete overexposure, and said, “What’s next–Obama on Dancing with the Stars?”

  5. You guys want to know what I was thinking, just after the inauguration?

    I was hoping for the best. I was thinking, “Well, we have a Dem majority, and maybe some old hands will guide him, and no he will not do the hard work that Hillary would do, and no, I can’t stand him personally, but maybe, MAYBE, he won’t be as bad as I think. And if he does semi-okay, I’ll tell myself that its better than Bush, and suck it up, and try to be supportive of the marginally acceptable policies if not the person.”

    I was mentally preparing myself to be as positive as I was capable of being under the circumstances.

    And he has screwed up, and floundered, and gone hell-bent for disastrous agendas, and so far is much MUCH worse than even I expected. I am FLOORED by how truly bad he is, and that’s saying something.

    And no, I am not happy about that.

    • Oddly enough, he is exactly what I expected. No more, no less. This was precisely the scenario that I feared. He did not disappoint.

      • yeah, me too, just like dubya, and I’m just hoping I don’t have to wait as long as I did for the rest of the US to catch up.

        I was called very friggin unnpatriotic name in the book for saying Iraq is a bad bad bad ideal … now, i’m in the same position …

        my first creative writing assignment was on Cassandra in 7th grade … karma really does rule, but she doesn’t always time it to what we think is appropriate

      • I had my fears, and knew he’d be bad. But no, even I didn’t think he’d be this bad this fast. I thought he’d at least do a few sensible things mixed in with the disasters. I thought that if he couldn’t do the job, he’d lean heavily on others – but he’s not doing that, not really. He can’t even staff his departments, fergodssake.

        It looks to me like his incompetence and laziness won’t let him do the job, but his ego won’t let him delegate and be a figurehead, either.

        I’d almost feel better if it seemed like he knew he wasn’t up to the job. But he doesn’t. This boob thinks he is the shit.

        • That’s exactly what I think and what is so infuriating. He still think he is the shit, while the rest of the people are catching on he is only sh%@#t.

    • I was thinking sort of along the same lines, but mine perhaps weren’t quite as gracious. I loathed just about everything about Obama from the beginning and would have done so had Hillary never entered the picture. Obama reminded me all too much of the disastrously corrupt and dissembling politicians of New Orleans, out for themselves and themselves alone, mouthing pieties and platitudes and big promises, playing divide and conquer, while secretly selling out those who most need government. So I didn’t have much, uh, hope at all, just forlorn ones, at best. (The fall was real short.)

      • He always reminded me of the very slick revival preachers of my childhood. The ones who left town with the money, and likely left a few pregnancies in their wake to boot.

        • I always thought he would be a “do-nothing” President-an enjoy the perks, party goer and holiday type.
          But I also thought the Dems would have strong horses to back him up. I never expected the religious fundamentalists, nor keeping on Repubs, nor Tim Geithner instead of PK. Certainly, having an unmanned Treasury Dept in the midst of an enormous economic meltdown was unimaginable.

          • Although most of our guys have been proving themselves useless through the years, I think there were one or two who probably actually wanted to do something and thought they’d be running the show while our diletantte friend played video games. They really should have learned from bush that he may be a doofus, but he’s a doofus who isn’t going to cede power to anyone. He’ll run the country into the ground just out of spite, because he can.

  6. i like being “petty” and “trivial” and right, don’t you? for any of you out there that are old enough to have read 1984 (the movie or the book) do you feel that with reverse speak and the non stop presence of his preciousness on tv, the radio, youtube, etc. that you have entered into the future and farenheit 451? it is truly frightening that we have a president plugged into a bunch of zombies.

  7. and, not only is obama not listening to old hands, but he is throwing money and candidates any incumbent and non imcumbent dem with which he and the leftist faction in power now ruling us.

    i sent an email to evan bayh in support of what he and his group of moderate dems are trying to do. slow down this stupid lock step of passing a budget without even reading it.

  8. In New Orleans, politicians and preachers were pretty much a distinction without a difference. A whole bunch of O-prototypes.

  9. I can’t stand it that BO is on TV all the time. He never stops, yet he says nothing. We keep hearing “good news” about the economy. Oh, the GDP didn’t drop as much as we thought, only 6.3% instead of 6.6% or something like that. Don’t quote me, b/c I didn’t bring my teleprompter. The reason more property is selling is that people with money are buying up the foreclosed properties. Yea! Isn’t that great! So wonderful that money can be made off the backs of others’ misery. But I am also po’d at the right wing, which acts like Bush did only good, as if his admin did not have a deficit or ruin the country in its 8 years. And now Newt Gingrich is becoming a Catholic. The world is so f’d up.

    • I can confirm that all those real estate sales last month were mostly due to real bargains out there to have. In some markets I know real well, short sales which linguered for months six months ago, are now sold after bidding wars. The money investors took off the stock market is being invested bif time in the real estate (rental) market. All those houses before owner occupied are now going to be rental properties. Another change in our landscape we could have done without.

  10. Another interesting article in the Atlantic-”Why Obama Can’t Satisfy The Left”

    Moderate voters are much more important to Democratic success than liberal voters. And liberals are also less important to Democrats than conservatives are to Republicans. That means liberals generally have less leverage than they recognize in these internal party arguments-and less leverage than conservatives can exert in internal struggles over the GOP’s direction. “Liberals are less central to the Democratic coalition than conservatives are to the Republican coalition,” says Andy Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

    That contrast is apparent from two different angles: identification and behavior. In cumulative Pew data for 2008, Kohut says, only one-third of self-identified Democrats described themselves as liberals; the rest identified as moderates or conservatives. For Republicans the proportions were reversed: two-thirds of Republicans considered themselves conservatives, while only one-third identified as moderates or liberals. Gallup’s findings are similar: in their cumulative 2008 data, just 39% of self-identified Democrats described themselves as liberals, while 70% of Republicans identified as conservatives.

    Looking at Obama’s actual vote in 2008 reinforces the story. According to the Edison/Mitofsky Election Day exit polls, liberals provided only 37% of Obama’s total votes. Moderates (50%) and conservatives (13%) provided far more. By contrast, conservatives provided almost three-fifths of John McCain’s votes, with moderates contributing only about one-third and liberals a negligible 5%.

    http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/03/why_doesnt_he_get_it.php

  11. “The Quiet Coup” which RD links to, is a great article:
    (tiny excerpt)

    Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

    But these various policies—lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits—such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

  12. The Coup article was a good read for this economy-worried-insomniac-
    like the “needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large.”.
    Or Boris Fyodorov, the late finance minister of Russia saying “confusion and chaos were very much in the interests of the powerful—letting them take things, legally and illegally, with impunity.”
    Or this one-”Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.” (I needed to hear someone else say that).
    I liked that he admitted nationalizing the banks was necessary.
    Bad news all around, but better to understand what’s happening then just
    losing sleep over it.

  13. Link to the pre G20 symposiumrecorded stream, which was on yesterday with Martin Wolf, Soros and many other economists:

    http://www.newamerica.net/events/2009/u_s_consumer

  14. Answer: NO! I hate “I told you so”s – when I predicted bad things. Been doing this throughout 8 years of Bush – so I know how much I hate being right.
    And now, another reliable predictor of disasters: the war in Afghanistan. Obama escalates it, progressives assess the situation

  15. There is a reason Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires. I knew Bush did not read but I suspect the great intellect doesn’t either especially in history. There is a pathetic quality to the unraveling of the hopiness and seeing them try to blame everyone and everything other than the President. They have not made the final connection in figuring it out, but it is painful and disgusting to watch anyway.

  16. We warned about “on the job training”. When our candidate said she was ready on DAY ONE, there was a reason this was important. Yea, anybody in the oval office will get better in time. But if the that country collapses before they’ve learned the job then its too late. I’m afraid we find ourselves facing that prospect. I’m not as angry at Obama as I am at his supporters who have their heads buried in the sand. They still think Obama will pay their mortgage and fill up their gas tank.

    • It’s not looking like Obama will get better in time. Apparently he’s so self-absorbed that he’s just going to continue primping and posing as POTUS for the next four years.

  17. Oh Rd. After staying up all night, worried about our country I turned to the Conf and read you. I’m so sorry. If this is any consolation at all just know that you know someone else that has been through it.

    The boxes in my garage hold 19+ years of time spent in a corporation. The only, and the most important thing that happened out of it?

    I decided that “what I did” was not the sole purpose of my existence — and that I could do a lot of things. If you don’t ever find that cure, it will never take away from what a wonderful woman you are.

    I followed your link over to the Atlantic and read that whole thing. This whole deal has been going on from the time we were in college — bankwise.

    I read yesterday that taxpayer money has gone to bail out banks overseas as well, and at the rate they are printing money?

    The worst of this? Look to the philosophy of Ayers — his friend — as bad as any banker — trying to destroy this country and move it to Communism. Well? They may get their wish.

    Looks like China wants a big department store chain here.

    Whatever happens, the strength inside you is going to hold you together — it will. There might be a part of Science that is way more fun — that you would rather do — in a place that doesn’t have crummy trays of food in the cafeteria.

    What the corporations in this country don’t realize is what they have lost when they hurt loyal American employees. Maybe when melamine starts showing up in the pills it might be a different story.

    Sending a hug to you.

    I never opened those boxes in the garage. I left them intact like a time capsule from 2001. It’s 8 years later, now — and the second career I prepared for is too dangerous in a country that looks like this one. This country has done this to itself, RD. We never knew what was going on behind the scenes while we worked so hard.
    Or that bankers and businesspeople could be so unethical.

    I don’t even know what to say, RD. You are one of the finest “people” I’ve ever met? In the virtual world. The “you” on the page is the you in real life? If that makes sense. You will take that quality wherever you go! You will never lose what you are made of.

    You won’t.

  18. [...] Conflucians Say: Do you think we *like* being right? (by riverdaughter at The Confluence) [C]ommenter Diego Mamani at Naked Capitalism gives us this example of what is likely to happen under Geithner’s Plan: Summary: Peter puts in $6, makes $2 profit Paul puts in $48, makes $2 profit U.S. puts in $84, makes a $36 LOSS Bank had paper that was really worth $58 but got $90 for it, makes a $32 profit [...]

  19. and that 36.00 loss was our tax money.so we lost on this deal

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